I have just come back from the grandest city of them all and the worlds first Megalopolis. New York City!!!!!!!! I heard only great things about this place and wanted to see for myself what all the fuss was about and if it was critic proof……well it is!! Even for a hardened cynic and a non-city lover it’s impossible not to be caught by its infectious buzz!
At first I thought I would be intimidated by its size, its culture and its coolness. New York oozes self-confidence and self-assurance but at the same time it has quite a humble appeal and as big cities go I found it very friendly and welcoming. One possible reason could be, that New York had quite humble beginnings. The people who left the Old World with nothing, went there in search of a better life. The best place to witness this is at the Immigration Port of Ellis Island. This was the first point of entry for many weary travellers, which saw the greatest migration in human history. Passengers were welcomed by The Statue Of Liberty “…. Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”. It was also the first trip I took in the city. I did think she would be……bigger! But this potent symbol of freedom and democracy is a great sight and one of the world most famous landmarks.
One other possible reason New York has a sense of realism is due to the event that changed the city and its people forever. I went to pay my respects at Ground Zero and as you can imagine it was a very sobering experience. Any time I heard the sounds of a New York City Fire Engine it evoked painful memories of watching the events unfold on T.V. In the aftermath, the positive reaction gave the city infinite kudos and a place in the hearts and minds of many in America and beyond.
On to Times Square, which is bit like Las Vegas and probably uses enough electricity to power all of Africa. For those that haven’t been to the States, a bit of advice. If you’re hungry then stick to the starters and avoid the main course unless you’re planning to become an elephant! It’s a bit of a tourist trap but a great spectacle none the less.
Next day I went to Grand Central Station. It maybe intentional but it seems too grand to be a main station terminus, especially when you have 200,000 people flowing through it each day! It’s an architectural gem and looks like it should be a theatre or a museum. In a similar vein as Grand Central Station, Central Park is too nice to be a city park. A little slice of Bohemia, poets with their recitals and peace and love musos strumming guitars are commonplace. Something else that’s quite common and seems very fashionable, is to have these little rats that look like dogs and walk them around the park. Then on to Strawberry Fields, which is the memorial for John Lennon. Opposite is the Dakota building where he lived and was tragically murdered. The building itself with its spiky spires and dark colours is a little creepy.
I wanted to be King Kong for a day so off to the Empire State building I went ……
On the 86th floor is the Observation Deck and what a spectacular sight it is! It’s a 360-degree view of the whole city. It’s definitely up there with the most amazing things I have ever seen. Every now and then you get a little queasy when you think how high up you are!
I played 2 gigs in Lower East Side Manhattan. The first one was a great quirky indie bar called Pianos, which might have been a strange choice to have a U.S album launch. Had a few too many margaritas before playing. The rule of thumb is the more you tip the larger the measures! They were going down a bit too well and I had to stop. I managed to hold it together and although there wasn’t the crowd I was expecting I was still on great form! My next gig was at the National Underground, in the same area as the previous venue and a similar type bar. Thankfully there was a better turn out and I was getting tipped really well. That was a good rule of thumb to measure my performance.
I felt a bit depressed as I got to the airport because I didn’t want to leave. My wish was granted and my flight cancelled!!! The ash cloud in Iceland meant 2 extra days of shopping and sight seeing!!
I feel a great sense of achievement because for so many years there was nowhere on earth I had wanted to go more than the Big Apple and it totally exceeded my expectations. Plus I was able to take my music to a new continent. At the moment I cant stop thinking about the place……….. getting into the U.S. isn’t the easiest of tasks but in an ideal world I would love to go back there and live for a while….if I can make it there I can make it anywhere!